Academic presentations: signposting language

time to complete: 10 minutes

We will now turn to some very important language for presentations. In this section, we will cover what we call signposting language; that is, words or phrases that you need to use in order to guide your audience through what you are presenting. This signposting language is very important as it helps the listeners stay focussed and make connections between the different parts or concepts covered in your presentation.

1. General organisation

This is language you use when you are starting the presentation e.g. introducing the topic, but also language you use when ending the presentation e.g. summarising your points.

2. Between/within slides

This is language you use when you are moving from one point or slide to another, or perhaps referring to an idea you covered earlier. Be careful with this, however. You shouldn’t overuse this language; for example, having six bullets in a slide does not mean you need to say ‘next point’ six times!!!

3. Referring to visuals/authors

Sometimes, you need to refer to your visuals e.g. tables, pie charts, images, etc. as well as the names of the authors you got the information from. 

4. Between speakers

If you are presenting as a group, then you need some useful language to transition from one speaker to another.

Task: Do the following task to learn more useful signposting language for presentations.

Below are the phrases from the task:

  • The main objectives of my presentation are…
  • I’ve divided my presentation into four sections. 
  • Now, moving on to the next…
  • But we’ll come to this in a few minutes.
  • Another point I’d like to make here is…
  • Let’s have a look at some data from Wilson’s research.
  • I’ll give you a few seconds to read this interesting quote by Kirk.
  • From this graph, we can see that…
  • As Hui explained earlier, this issue is not really…
  • I’ll leave you now with my colleague, Ola, who will cover the…
  • To recap, we have looked at three possible solutions to…

To summarise, signposting language is really important as it makes the organisation of your presentation clearer to the audience, so make sure you use some throughout your presentation. As you can see from the examples above, signposting language is much more than just listing the order of ideas. It is more about telling the audience what will do, what you are doing and what you have done.